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164 Mississippi Quarterly Selected Film Essays and Interviews. Bruce Kawin. London: Anthem Press, 2013. 215 pp. $40 paper. BRUCE KAWIN, PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH AND FILM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF Colorado-Boulder, has been writing elegantly and rigorously (one of his mantras is “getting it right”) about film for around forty years and across an impressive number of books, chapters, articles, and interviews. The most significant of these have now been collected in one volume for the first time, and together represent the breadth and depth of Kawin’s interests and scholarship: American, British, and European film and literature; film, television, and video; and genre and art-house film. Faulkner scholars will already be familiar with Kawin via his trailblazing scholarship on Faulkner’s screenplays and cinematic fiction —for Kawin, Faulkner is the most cinematic of authors. Not even a handful of scholars had taken seriously Faulkner’s relationship to film before Kawin’s initial foray into the field in 1977 with “A Faulkner Filmography.” He subsequently produced further essays, a book (Faulkner and Film, 1977) and a scholarly edition (Faulkner’s MGM Screenplays,1982)onthiscinematicFaulkner,concludingwiththe2002 publication of excerpts from his 1976 interview with Howard Hawks not long before the director’s death. It was Hawks, of course, who first enticed Faulkner out to Hollywood where they collaborated on numerous projects over the course of two decades. This interview is published here in its entirety for the first time along with Kawin’s 1978 interview with silent-screen star Lillian Gish, who discusses, among other things, her collaboration with D. W. Griffith on Intolerance(1916) and Broken Blossoms (1919). What Hawks has to say here about Faulkner’s and his own use of “opposites” (114-15) in their respective creative practices is particularly intriguing when read alongside Kawin’s arguably most important contribution to Faulkner studies, his 1979 essay “The Montage Element in Faulkner’s Fiction,” also collected here. Kawin’s insight is that Faulkner, in his “greatest novels and stories,” deployed the specifically cinematictropeofmontage,evidenced in his use of “oxymoron,dynamic unresolution, parallel plotting, rapid shifts in time and space, and multiple narration” (136). To put it simply, Faulkner “was doing something that the cinema also did” (136). As incisively, Kawin observes that “Faulkner recognized a difference between the terms ‘Hollywood’ and ‘film,’ although many of his biographers, critics and colleagues seem 165 Book Reviews to have missed that particular boat” (141). In one fell swoop and over thirty years ago, Kawin writes back to those scholars who even today disavow or dismiss the cinematic Faulkner, be it the screenwriter, the avid movie-goer, or the cinematic novelist. Indeed, it has only been in this century that the implications of Kawin’s cutting-edge readings of Faulkner have been fully appreciated and pursued. SelectedFilmEssays and Interviews.also includes a tribute to another Southerner, Horton Foote, whom Kawin characterizes as “a legend” of television’s golden age. Unlike Faulkner’s teleplays and screenplays, Foote’s have seemed less controversial subjects for discussion, and include his original screenplay Tender Mercies (1983) for Australian director Bruce Beresford; his redaction of To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962); and teleplays such as redactions of Faulkner’s “Tomorrow” (Tomorrow, 1960; film, 1972), the “Old Man” sections of The Wild Palms (Old Man, 1997), and “Barn Burning” (Barn Burning, 1980), and also of Flannery O’Connor’s “The Displaced Person” (The Displaced Person, 1977). I was tantalized by Kawin’s description of Baby the Rain Must Fall (Mulligan, 1965), for which Foote wrote the screenplay, as “Foote’s answer to Faulkner’s Light in August.” (152). As Kawin reminds us that Foote “spans the gap between the studios and the shoestring independents” (150), he also places him in direct dialogue with Faulkner and O’Connor in—who would have thought?—the televisual field. And this is what is so valuable about Kawin’s collection, particularly the manner in which it has been curated. The essays on two significant Southern litterateurs, better known for fiction or stage drama, are situated within the field of the visual (cinematic, televisual, video) and the scholarship that obtains there. The bulk of Kawin’s Selected Film Essays and Interviews, as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2689-517X
Print ISSN
0026-637X
Pages
pp. 164-166
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-27
Open Access
No
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